If only breastfeeding was as easy for all moms as nature intended it to be. Wouldn't it be nice for your baby to immediately latch on like a pro, and for your milk supply to always be perfectly regulated? Sadly, it isn't this simple for many moms. It definitely wasn't easy for me. I struggled with my milk supply and when all else failed, I looked into things to drink to make breastfeeding easier.
Many nursing moms who are having a hard time will discuss using herbal or prescription galactagogues — a substance that increases your milk supply —with their doctors. Because everything you ingest has the potential of showing up in your breast milk and affecting your baby, it is important not to take anything, whether it is considered herbal, organic, all-natural, etc., without first speaking to a healthcare professional. "There is often an assumption that since herbs are natural, they are safe," Dr. Jay Gordon, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote on his site. "That isn’t always the case, and in fact, some herbs can be quite dangerous."
Gordon is a proponent of galactagogues, but only as a last resort for moms who truly need help with their supply. He recommends instead that you first make sure you aren't inadvertently restricting your own milk supply by doing things such as wearing a bra that is too tight, sleeping on your stomach, smoking, taking allergy medications, or not nursing and pumping often enough.
If you are doing everything recommended, and you still have a low supply, here are some things you may be able to drink in order to make breastfeeding easier — as long as you get your doctor's OK first.
1. Ginger Tea
According to Mom Junction, ginger helps increase breast milk production. You can drink commercially made ginger teas, or steep a slice or two of ginger into hot water for a few minutes to make your own.
2. Fenugreek Tea
Drinking fenugreek tea may increase milk volume, according to WebMD. There are several commercial fenugreek teas available or you can search for homemade recipes using crushed fenugreek seeds in boiling water. Gordon warned that fenugreek can affect blood sugar levels, and nursing moms with hypoglycemia or diabetes must watch blood sugar levels if using fenugreek.
3. Fennel Tea
As breastfeeding and lactation consultant Kelly Bonyata told Kelly Mom, fennel is sometimes used to elicit milk let-down. Gordon warned that fennel contains phytoestrogens that can have a negative effect on your supply if taken in excess.
4. Dill Seed Tea
Gordon wrote on his site that moms can brew a tea using dill seed or sprinkle the raw seeds over their meals.
5. Carrot Juice
According to Just Mommies, carrots contain phytoestrogens, beta-carotene and Vitamin A, which can provide some extra energy needed by lactating women and may improve the supply of breast milk. Remember, that phytoestrogens may be harmful to you milk supply if taken in excess.
6. Apricot Juice
Apricots are considered a breastfeeding superfood according to The Bump, as drinking apricot juice can increase prolactin, the hormone that tells your body to produce milk.
7. Alfalfa Tea
Alfalfa has been used to increase milk supply for many years, according to Very Well. A tea can be made by using the leaves rather than the sprout. The site recommended introducing alfalfa gradually as it can cause diarrhea in the mom, baby or both.
8. Blessed Thistle Tea
Blessed thistle works to increase milk supply when used in conjunction with other herbs such as fenugreek according to Very Well. A tea can be made by placing one or two teaspoons of dried blessed thistle in one cup of boiling water, but Very Well warned that the flavor is bitter.
9. Almond Milk
Very Well also noted that many nursing moms drink almond milk in order to increase the creaminess, sweetness, and amount of their breast milk.
10. Goat's Rue Tea
Goat's rue is considered a galactagogue, but Very Well warned not to use the fresh goat's rue plant because it is considered toxic. The dried plant, however, can be used as a tea to increase milk supply.
This is probably the easiest and safest thing you can drink to make breast feeding easier. Gordon recommended that all breastfeeding moms drink at least 64 ounces of water per day. Moms who don't drink enough water can get constipated, feel fatigued, and have trouble concentrating according to Dr. Sears. This can make breastfeeding way harder than it needs to be.